Frequently Asked Questions

We get lots of questions every year from our contestants and visitors so we thought we would post some of them (and the answers) here for your information. If you have any additional questions, or see something that needs to be added or changed here, please email us at - we would love to hear from you!

How Do I Sign Up To Be A Contestant?

Sign up (entry) forms that contestants can print off and mail in will be posted on the contestant registration page in early February. We also mail entry forms to contestants who request a form be mailed to them. If you want an entry form "snail mailed" to you, please request it via email at and include your name, address, email address and telephone number. Additionally, flyers announcing the contest that include entry forms are mailed out to our general mailing list and supplied to music stores and other locations in mid-February.

We recommend that you send in your entry forms and entry fees as soon as possible after receiving the forms. We expect over 160 contestants at the contest and between 4000 and 5000 visitors. Don't be left out; get your entry forms in quickly! And while you're at it, purchase advance tickets for family and friends at the same time. For a complete list of rules and requirements, see FAQ's under CONTESTANTS.

You may also sign up to be a contestant on the day of the event if you have not pre-registered. The stage management maintains a waiting list where you can sign up. Time permitting, we will allow some of those on the waiting list to perform. There are no guarantees that you'll be able to perform - we try our best. The waiting list is limited to Intermediate, non-Beginning and Advanced levels of single instrument categories.

Where and when is the Topanga Contest?

The Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest is held on the grounds of Paramount Ranch, in Agoura Hills, California. CLICK HERE to go to our maps and directions page. The Topanga contest will be held this year on Sunday, May 21st, 2017 from 9:00am to 6:00pm.

Bathrooms are Clean and Plentiful

We use portable toilet facilities and keep them clean throughout the festival. If you see a bathroom that needs some attention, please contact one of the volunteers with a badge or CB radio, and we will take care of it. Additionally there are portable hand washing stations outside of the toilet facilities. Handicapped access facilities are available.

Can I bring an amplifier or amplified instrument?

Acoustic instruments, YES! Amplifiers or any amplified instrument, NO.
No Amplifiers or electrically amplified instruments may be brought into the contest/festival grounds!

Can I bring a drum or tambourine?

Simple percussion may be utilized in good taste but must not overpower jamming musicians. And, DEFINITELY, NO DRUM CIRCLES!

May We Bring Beer or Wine to the Event?

Beer and wine beverages are allowed into the event but we ask that it be consumed discreetly and in small amounts. Park Rangers, who supply security for the event, don't want to have to spend time dealing with someone who has consumed too much. No, we do not sell beer or wine at the event. Also, remember that this is a family event; we want everyone to enjoy themselves and have a good time. Please keep this in mind and enjoy your beverages discreetly.

Quality food is sold at the event

The food is good and we work hard every year to try and bring the best catering services we can find to service the event. We are limited in providing too many choices because of various health department and Park rules. Remember that Topanga is a GREAT event to bring a picnic lunch and an ice chest to!

Calabasas Custom Catering will be offering the traditional American and Spanish fare, along with their own mouth-watering recipe for Santa Maria barbecue Tri-Tip. Sizzling along side will be flame-grilled sausages, chicken breast sandwiches and hot dogs and hamburgers. For a taste of another traditional classic, sample some Old Fashion Kettle Corn. For those afternoon breaks, refresh with a childhood staple - shaved ice, cotton candy or the ice cream cart. A drink and snack stand will also be featured near the Dance Stage for those in need of quick thirst aid as well as several "Agoura Hills Tap" water fountains. For that special après picnic beverage or a morning eye opener, the Cappuccino Cart will happily concoct that special brew. Bon Appetit!

Can I Bring My Dog or Other Pet to The Contest?

Many people, especially children are afraid of dogs.  Also, many dogs that are normally well-behaved at home or around people will react abnormally to other dogs or crowded conditions.  For the comfort and safety of everyone, we ask that you leave your dog at home.  If you are unable to do so, please follow these guidelines:

Leashed dogs are allowed on the grounds of the Paramount Ranch. Please make sure your pet is well-leashed and in control at all times. Thanks for your consideration of others with regard to your pet and remember that there will be a lot of other people at the Contest. Bring a plastic water bowl or pet dish, as it can get hot during the day. Also please be prepared to pick up after your pet; please bring plastic bags or the appropriate "tools." For more information on rules and where dogs are welcome in the Santa Monica Mountains, please CLICK HERE to go to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area web page on the subject.

How's The Cellular Telephone Access at Paramount Ranch?

Although most major service providers of cellular telephones work well at the Paramount Ranch location, the location itself is in the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains, and can cause some connection issues. The Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest advises that cellular service can be intermittent, so don't depend on cell phones for rendezvous or emergencies.

How Can I Apply for a Vendor Booth?

Contact Bonnie Clarfield-Bylin, our booth (vendor) coordinator, at Or, see our Vendor Page for all the booth information, the application form, and everything else you need to know!

Can I Bring High Back Chairs?

Only low back (beach) chairs (31" or less) are allowed in front of the main stage area. High-back chairs block the view of the stage for others in back of you who are trying to enjoy the view of the stage. Please no chaise lounges, hook-back chairs, or reclining chairs! If you bring an umbrella or tent to shield yourself from the sun, please make sure it's outside of the boundaries marked off on either side of the stage. In general, we ask that you be considerate of others behind you and their view of the stage. Please only use the space that you and your chairs and your ice chest need. Thanks!

Is there any Public Transportation to Paramount Ranch?

To obtain schedule information for public transportation to Paramount Ranch, go to or call 1-800-COMMUTE. Uber and Lyft have many drivers in the area as well. The nearest town to Paramount Ranch is Agoura Hills, California. Parking is free at the event, and we do provide a shuttle bus service within the parking lot itself. Unfortunately, The National Park Service free shuttle service is no longer in operation.

How can I help the Contest? Do you need volunteers?

Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest is completely run by volunteers. There are many different kinds of jobs that need doing, and we average over 100 folks each year who help us with a number of different tasks. If you're a bluegrass music or community-minded person and interested in volunteering for the event, please see our VOLUNTEER PAGE for more information and who to contact. We always need new volunteers, please help us out and enjoy the day for free!

Can I Camp Overnight at Paramount Ranch?

Sorry, Paramount Ranch has no overnight camping facilities, and therefore cannot support any overnight camping by the public. However, Malibu Creek State Park has overnight camping in Malibu Canyon. Click HERE to reserve sites or call (818) 880-0365 for more information. And, please no generators in the parking area.

What Time can I Come In and Set Up my Chairs?

The audience area opens at 9:00 a.m. the day of the event. You may line up earlier at the entrance to the event, but it’s usually not necessary to get a good space in front of the Main Stage. There is plenty of room for everyone to see the main stage and remember, there are three other stages of entertainment going all day besides the main stage. Take some time to enjoy the entertainment at each of the stages. You'll be glad you did.

Some Rules of Consideration for all of us to follow (Please feel free to pass these tips along to others at the Festival for the benefit of all - we appreciate it!)